Capella Stories: Cynthia Ashman

Facing mandatory retirement from her job at the United States Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas, Cynthia Ashman prepared for a second career in education. "I thought teaching college would be awesome for me because I've got 30 years of experience that I can share," she said.

Ashman had worked for six years as a probation officer, then took a position at Leavenworth where she eventually became a unit manager overseeing 446 minimum-security inmates. All federal law enforcement officers must retire by age 57, so she began planning for her next vocation when she turned 50.

She knew that to get a college-level teaching position, she'd need a master's degree. She chose Capella's MS in Public Safety program and quickly got up to speed on online learning and research. From the beginning, she appreciated the practicality of the studies. As an undergraduate, she had taken a number of courses she did not think were going to be helpful to her work. So she was delighted to realize that each Capella course could be put to direct use in her new career.

With her Capella degree, getting a teaching position—two of them, actually—was a snap. It took less than a day to land a teaching position at a college; she got a substitute teaching job at a high school 15 minutes after her interview. Her online experience at Capella was impressive to her new employers.

Once she started teaching, she relied on the practices demonstrated by her Capella instructors. "I've taught for a year now and love it, and all the students love it, too," Ashman says. She says the Capella master's program in Public Safety worked tremendously well for her and inspired others, too. She has friends and family members who are continuing their educations in part because of the example she set.

Ashman says, with a touch of her criminal justice background showing: "The world is yours. Take it. Do whatever you want—as long as it's legal."

Capella Story Quote

Photo of Cynthia Ashman, MS Cynthia Ashman, MS

"I'd recommend Capella to anyone who wants to move ahead in their job or to find a new place to use their experience."

2008 Graduate